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“There were orders that you must open it right away.”
Elisha looked around. Unfortunately, Lucerne was not present. She swallowed a low sigh and opened the envelope.
It contained the certificates of rights, land, and building documents for a flour refinery in the middle of the capital.
“Wow, what a gift this is. How fantastic, Elisha!”
Illione shouted. An exclamation of surprise erupted among the aristocratic ladies who peeked at the present’s contents. Of course, any lady would be delighted to receive such a prize.
Their gold and silver treasures could only be sold once to raise funds, but the flour refinery’s title certificate brought a steady annual income sufficient to raise a small family.
‘So this is why Carola ran away with her tail between her legs.’
She knew that Elisha would receive this surprise today. So she ran away because she didn’t want to be embarrassed in public.
If Carola had been present, people would have started to gossip and ask, ‘But what about the Duke’s first grandson’s daughter-in-law? Don’t you live with your in-laws? Then why aren’t you getting anything?’
‘But what the hell is the Head scheming?’
It was the iron-clad motto of the ducal family never to spend money carelessly. However, when it came to Lucerne, she wasn’t so sure that applied to him. He gave Elisha too many precious gifts and was opulent when it came to her.
Then, she realized that Gail was closely scrutinizing her.
“What shall I tell the Duke?”
Gail said softly. He was prompting her to express her appreciation to the Head. Elisha looked at Gail with steady regard and said calmly,
“Please convey my sincere, heartfelt gratitude.”
“… … .”
“But I can’t accept this gift right now.”
Illione’s shocked gaze darted at Elisha. As did all the other noble ladies standing nearby.
“Please reconsider, Lady Elisha. This is the Duke’s sincerity,”
Gail replied cautiously. She shook her head.
“The winner of today’s hunting festival is Princess Illione. I didn’t do anything to get an award, so there’s no reason to receive one. Moreover, it would be disrespectful to receive such a grand present at an imperial family event without His Majesty’s permission. However, I will deeply engrave the grace in which the gift was given to me in consideration of the relationship between the general and the Duke’s family. So please take the present back.”
A smile slowly spread on Gail’s lips. In fact, before sending him off, the Master had ordered him to give Elisha a gift and closely study her reaction. However, her ability to grasp the situation was more than he expected.
First of all, there was a risk of hurting the pride of Princess Illione, not only by upstaging her when she should have been the most celebrated character of the day. Then there was the possibility of earning the ire of the monarch by making such a considerable commotion at an imperial family hosted event.
Although the Cartier family wielded unbridled power, there was nothing to gain from provoking the imperial family and instigating a power struggle. Plus, the scandal would be even worse if the paltry wife of an illegitimate grandchild was at the center of it.
Self-interest did not blind Elisha. On the contrary, she serenely grasped reality and declined the present.
“In fact, His Majesty the Emperor has already given permission to the Duke via letter to deliver the present to Lady Elisha today.”
“Then… … .”
“Please receive the gift, Lady Elisha. It seems to be a belated wedding present. There’s no reason to be concerned!”
Illione was no fool either. She grasped the situation and nodded in agreement. Only then did Elisha bend her knee in a curtsy and accept the gift.
Gail looked at Elisha with satisfaction. When he was to report to the Lord today and inquired about her demeanor, he intended to inform him that she had a flawless, wise, and noble bearing; from considering the imperial family’s status to being prudent of the public’s gaze, and lastly, displaying impeccable etiquette when she politely and humbly received the present.
“The Duke seems to care a lot for the new bride.”
Aristocrats were sensitive to the smell of power. Even noblewomen who hadn’t approached Elisha earlier flocked over to flatter her.
Then Lucerne came back from cleaning up in the woods. With suspicious regard, he took in the lively atmosphere filled with precious alcohol and food.
“Why are you so late?”
Elisha asked the ladies for their understanding and hurriedly approached him.
Elisha efficiently guessed his situation from his curt response. The emperor summoned Lucerne to find out why the ducal clan head sent the gift.
“From the look on your face, you seem to know what’s going on. Shall I give it to you?”
Elisha showed him the paperwork for the flour refinery.
“No, it was given to you. You keep it,”
Lucerne noted mildly.
“Why are you telling me to keep it?”
“The Head will shamelessly try to act like a family elder from now on, so if we are going to be bothered regardless, at least it won’t be for free, right?”
This time, Elisha agreed.
“Since I’m abiding by his momentum, he’ll give me some pocket money,”
Elisha noted indifferently. The family head did not feel sad about giving money to his subordinates. However, there was the dilemma of him trying to exercise control over them after that.
“Why would you give me your money? I can’t take it. If it weighs too much on you, ignore it.”
Elisha was more afraid that he was not bluffing. Of course, Jacob would have never said such a thing. However, the clan head’s interest certainly led to gains. She thought Lucerne wouldn’t deny that, at least.
“Now you can return to your room. There is no banquet today.”
Elisha said she understood and was about to leave when Illione approached.
“General, I’d like to invite Elisha tonight, can I?”
“… … You mean my wife?”
Lucerne’s eyebrows twitched slightly. It was a look of displeasure.
“I have a gathering with the wives of military officials who attended the hunting festival. Wouldn’t it be nice if Elisha also attended?”
Illione detected that Lucerne’s energy was unusual. But she pretended to be ignorant of it and responded in a clear and cheerful manner. She was very fond of Elisha and wanted to take this opportunity to have a heart-to-heart conversation.
“May I go, Lucerne?”
Elisha appealed. She wanted to escape his surveillance, even for just a moment, and have the space to catch her breath a little. She wasn’t dissatisfied with daily life in the mansion but had become close with Illione, who harbored no malice or harm towards her.